Business briefs: Fed chair sees no need to raise rates to ensure stability
WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday she doesn’t see a need for the Fed to start raising interest rates to defuse the risk that extremely low rates could destabilize the financial system.
Yellen said she does see “pockets” of increased risk-taking. But she said those threats could be addressed through greater use of regulatory tools. Many of those tools, such as higher capital standards for banks, were put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, which triggered the Great Recession.
Amazon vows fight over kids’ in-app purchases
LOS ANGELES – Amazon said Wednesday it is prepared to go to court against the Federal Trade Commission to defend itself against charges that it has not done enough to prevent children from making unauthorized in-app purchases.
The FTC alleged in a draft lawsuit released by Amazon that unauthorized charges by children on Amazon tablets have amounted to millions of dollars.
Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. said in a letter Tuesday to FTC Chair Edith Ramirez that it already had refunded money to parents who complained. It also said its parental controls go beyond what the FTC required from Apple when it imposed a $32.5 million fine on the company in January over a similar matter.
Amazon’s Kindle Free Time app can limit how much time children spend on Kindle tablets as well as require a personal identification number for in-app purchases, Amazon spokesman Craig Berman said.
By not agreeing to a settlement with the FTC, the company faces a potential lawsuit by the FTC in federal district court.
Auctioned bitcoins to be sold to bolster economies
SAN FRANCISCO – Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper has snapped up nearly 30,000 bitcoins in a U.S. government auction and now plans to sell the digital currency in countries trying to build stronger economies.
The U.S. Marshals Service said Draper prevailed over 44 other bidders registered for an auction of bitcoins seized last year from Silk Road, a website that stockpiled the currency while selling illegal drugs.
The auction took place last week. The winner was identified Wednesday. Draper says he is using a system that has set up trading platforms in emerging markets to circulate the bitcoins. The amount Draper paid for the bitcoins isn’t being revealed. Their current market value is roughly $19 million.
Factory orders decline in May, end 3-month gain
WASHINGTON – Orders to U.S. factories fell in May, ending three months of gains.
The Commerce Department reported that orders fell 0.5 percent, pulled down by falling demand for military and transportation equipment. That followed increases of 0.8 percent in April, 1.5 percent in March and 1.7 percent in February.
Excluding military hardware, factory orders rose 0.2 percent in May from April. Orders for transportation equipment fell 2.9 percent. Orders for computers and electronic equipment fell 2 percent, the biggest monthly drop since December. Orders for durable goods, meant to last three years or more, fell 0.9 percent in May. Orders for nondurable goods slipped 0.2 percent. Factory orders were up 2.5 percent from May 2013.
Tyson Foods inks deal to buy Hillshire Brands
SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Tyson Foods Inc. has signed a definitive deal to purchase Hillshire Brands Co. for $7.75 billion, two days after the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs was let out of its agreement to buy Pinnacle Foods.
The deal with Tyson – valued by the companies at about $8.55 billion, including debt – was contingent on Hillshire walking away from the Pinnacle deal. Tyson said it will pay the $163 million termination fee to Pinnacle on behalf of Hillshire.